Medical Marijuana Activists Cheer California Supreme Court Decision to Review Dispensary Bans



Americans for Safe Access and other medical marijuana groups in California are applauding the California Supreme Court's decision to review Pack v. Long Beach, and two other appellate cases that have led to dispensary bans in many cities and counties.

The Supreme Court's review could take up to a year, watchers say. In the meantime, more dispensaries are likely to open in San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond. San Francisco had suspended dispensary permitting since November due to Pack. The San Francisco City Attorney's office wrote in December that, “If the Supreme Court grants review, this court of appeal decision will have no effect during the pendency of the Supreme Court's review.”

Dispensary under construction at 3139 Mission
  • David Downs
  • Dispensary under construction at 3139 Mission

Cities and counties can no longer use Pack to ban clubs, said Americans for Safe Access legal counsel Joe Elford. “We're very pleased that local governments will now be unable to use appellate court decisions to deny patients access to medical marijuana in their own communities."

Lanny Swerdlow, an activist and organizer in battleground Southern California, was more sanguine. “This means that all this raging-bull-in-a-china shop behavior that cities and counties have been going through — issuing cease and desist orders, citing collectives for zoning violations and fining them $1,000 a day — is out the window. With the acceptance by the Supreme Court, the opinion of the 4th District Court that cities can ban collectives under their zoning ordinances is rendered moot."

He contiued, "I have been told that the rapidity at which the Supreme Court took the case (they took fewer than thirty days to accept the appeal for review and could have taken ninety) demonstrates that they know what a chaotic situation has been created by the refusal of cities to license and regulate collectives — and that they need to act fast (at least fast for the Supreme Court) to end the wild west atmosphere that has been created by the deference cities have given to the cops' opposition to Prop. 215.”

San Diego-based group the California Cannabis Coalition stated, “What this means is that by accepting the cases, it sets aside all litigation that is taking place with cities and counties as to whether they can ban medical marijuana or not. And now we will have to wait for the Supreme Court decision. This is a positive move in the right direction.”

More analysis as it comes in.